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Durham NC - vegetarian options

Visiting the Durham, NC area next week and meeting with a client who's flying in from California. He's reportedly a vegetarian and I have to take him out for a couple meals. He seems like the type who would be just as up for casual / hole in the wall ethnic eateries as finer dining...so recs for either would be helpful.

Doesn't have to be a strictly vegetarian place...actually for my own personal sake it would probably be better if it wasn't...but some place that would have a lot of appealing vegetarian options on the menu. Willing to drive anywhere in the triangle area if necessary.

I was planning to go to Blue Nile but that was nixed when I was talking to him about DC's excellent Ethiopian dining and he said "you know, Ethiopian is like the one cuisine I don't really care for."

Thanks for your help folks!

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  1. Anotherthyme is a pretty good middle-ground/safe spot when you're eating with an unknown vegetarian. It's comfortable and semi-upscale and they actually care about their vegetarian entrees, but still have a lot of fish & poultry & etc.

    Banh's [vietnamese] has the vegetarian plate on Wednesday & Saturday; it's where you'll find all the scruffy 9th Street vegetarians on those two days.

    Piedmont always has one vegetarian entree, and though their focus is really all about the meat, they actually care about the vegetarians too. I haven't had their vegetarian entrees, though, so I can't really speak to how well they do. The rest of the menu is out of this world, though.

    Over in Chapel Hill, I'm pretty sure you could find good vegetarian options at Lantern & Jujube. Across from Lantern is Tallula's, which comes up fairly often when people ask about vegetarian options in Chapel Hill. Further over in Carrboro is Panzanella, a moderately-casual Italian restaurant owned by the local hippie co-op grocery. Fresh ingredients, and not really hippie at all, actually.

    Our two bright lights in the ethnic/hole-in-the-wall category are our BBQ restaurants and our tacquerias, neither of which will provide much in the way of useful vege options ;-)

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    Piedmont Restaurant
    401 Foster St, Durham, NC 27701

    Tallula's
    456 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

    Lantern
    423 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

    Banh's Cuisine
    750 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

    Anotherthyme Restaurant & Bar
    109 N Gregson St, Durham, NC 27701

    Panzanella
    101 E Weaver St, Carrboro, NC 27510

    4 Replies
    1. re: rossgrady

      Yeah, I already have a stop at Allen & Son planned after I dump him back off at the airport and before I get on the road back up to DC. That was a favorite when I lived down there way back when, and the "barbecue" in the DC area is a joke, even though everyone seems to think they've found the "real deal" at one place or another.

      If I get two alone meals, I will have to hit up a tacqueria since the DC area is also virtually devoid of authentic Mexican food (and most of what we accept as authentic are mexican staples prepared by salvadoreans for salvadorean tastes...VERY tasty in many spots, but different). There wasn't much in the way of real mexican options when I was down there, probably because there wasn't much in the way of a latin american population yet, mexican or otherwise. Right about the time I left there was some place opened up near Duke's east campus that had big burritos which were a great deal on a quantity/price ratio basis but really not very good from what I recall. Other than that I don't really remember anything even close to a tacqueria so I am interested to explore this option.

      1. re: Franklun

        Yeah, we've had a hispanic population explosion, and Durham has gotten the greatest benefit in terms of good taquerias per capita. Have a skim through the results of this Chowhound search: http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

        I'm partial to Taqueria Lopez (http://tacolopez.bravehost.com/) but you could also eat well at any number of places on N. Roxboro.

      2. re: rossgrady

        I can raise my hand for Piedmont's veg options; I've had them twice as mains, and both times they were very good. The problem is that you don't feel like you have a ton of choice there, which can sometimes feel restrictive. Rue Cler also always (um, every time I've been) has a veg option on each course.

        Totally agree with the suggestions of Lantern, Tallulahs, Jujube and Panzanella. We ate at Panzanella last night and it was very good. And they're really easy about taking meat out of dishes that otherwise appeal.

        I miss the DC Salvadoran stuff ... El Tamarindo is a hole in the wall, but I ate some great meals there.

        1. re: rossgrady

          AnotherThymes is an excellent suggestion. It's a fine restaurant that doesn't get much attention these days. Overshadowed by the new kids on the block (Piedmont, Rue Cler, Alevia)

        2. If you decide you do want to go exclusively vegetarian, Sage may be the best choice. I haven't loved everything I've had there--pretty blah beans and rice--but mostly it's been very tasty. Sage is in the Timberlyne Shopping Center on Weaver Diary Road near Martin Luther King Blvd. in Chapel Hill.

          1. Vit goal is really good. Might not be the best bet on one of these 100 degree days though - the tofu soup comes to your table boiling!

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            Vit Goal
            2107 Allendown Dr Ste 101, Durham, NC 27713

            2 Replies
            1. re: scarrie

              Also, if you're in RTP, Saffron isn't too far. (it's in Morrisville). One of the best Indian restaurants in the area. There are lots of vegetarian options in the lunch buffet.

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              Saffron Indian Cuisine & Lng
              4121 Davis Dr, Morrisville, NC 27560

              1. re: scarrie

                You've got me smilling. I've had the tofu soup at Seoul Garden twice in the last two weeks, heat notwithstanding, and I'm taking a business contact there for lunch today. Since it might seem imdelicate to order their huge bento box lunch I'll probably be eating the tofu soup again today.

              2. I second the saffron req. In the same area, Nikos Taverna has been a hit with the vegetarians I have taken there. Good luck!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Westy

                  Tonali has a great chili relleno made with authenic local ingredients -vegetarian.

                  1. re: steveindurham2

                    As a vegetarian, I can tell you I would hate to go to a place that had 1 vegetarian dish, what if I hate it? or I'm not in the mood for a chile relleno or want a choice. And I wouldn't really want to go to a 'slabs of meat' place either. It would put me off.
                    I live in Chapel Hill & love Panazanella, there are tons of choices & as said they're very accomadating. I also love Tallulah as again tons of choices, Elegant Saffron sounds terrific, we have some amazing Indian food here. Udipi Cafe in Cary is utter bliss:) I love little Carrburrito's on Tuesday which is Toful night...
                    I think you'd do better for your friend & yourself in Chapel Hill. I

                    1. re: Rory

                      I definitely understand where you're coming from. I eat seafood and poultry but stay away from pork and (mostly) all red meat, and there are still places around here that leave me only one choice. I find this frustrating.

                      Worth noting that Rue Cler has a very small menu no matter what you eat ... only 3 items per course on the pre fixe menu, and very few other things. You just kind of have to trust that you'll like what they're making that night (and I've almost always had good luck there).

                2. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Sitar Indian Palace in Durham - great Indian food and if you do the buffet - a wide variety of choices.

                  http://www.sitarindiapalace.net/

                  And there's Papa's Grill in Durham also - excellent Mediterranean food.

                  http://www.papasgrille.com/

                  And I agree with the endorsement about Niko's above - one of my favorites.